During the first weeks of school, professors had something else on their minds besides syllabi and add cards: dogs.
A debate over animals on campus surfaced in a flurry of campus-wide emails by faculty and staff when English instructor Celeste Barber circulated a note Jan. 24 titled “Must Love Dogs” in response to bright-green, “No Animals” flyers posted around campus.
“I’ve never realized anything but joy from the occasional dog -or cat and bird- on our campus,” Barber said in the email. “Is there any place left for our pals?”
Campus sources say the origin of the signs is unknown. Security Director Erick Fricke said while security did not post the signs, he heard several faculty members had complained about another teacher bringing a dog into the IDC building.
Barber’s email incited about 11 emails in response through City College’s campus-wide email system, Groupwise.
Among the commentators was Don Krueger, a laboratory technician in the music department. He said in one of the e-mails that City College’s recently retired dean, Jack Ullom, “was attacked by an unleashed dog on campus. He protected himself by jamming his briefcase in the miscreant’s mouth.”
Krueger, who signed his email “Cat-man,” added that “the taxpayers fund this institution as a college, not a dog run.
“We can’t have students and staff attacked by dogs,” Krueger told the Channels.
Paul McDowell, a sociology and anthropology instructor, followed Krueger’s email with a similar tale saying that he almost got bit “when a door opened and this humongous dog charged out barking and growling.
“I was scared feces-less,” McDowell wrote.
Yet, for all the hoopla, Fricke said that as far as he knows, there has only been one reported dog bite, which occurred on Dec. 11 last year near the Student Services Building. Fricke said the small dog drew a little blood.
But in the email dogfight, many in the canine camp came to the rescue of man’s best friend.
Nicole Gilbert, who works in the Educational Programs Support office, said the signs were “mean-spirited.
“I see dogs on campus all the time and there has never been a problem,” Gilbert said. She said that the college is providing a safe environment by having dogs on a leash, but leashes can’t protect everything.
Barber, who prompted the debate, added the move to ban animals was an example of “the tyranny of the minority over the majority.”
Barber asserted that humans do more harm on campus by acts such as graffiti and littering, saying that if the campus should be closed, it should be closed to people that are not here for class and not closed to dogs.
While the issue of school liability is not clear-cut, Sue Ehrlich, vice president of human resources and legal affairs, wrote in an e-mail to the Channels that the “college is exposed to litigation if it does not take responsible action to provide a safe campus environment both inside and outside its buildings. The unregulated presence of dogs on campus increases exposure to harm from bites, accidents, allergies, and poses other health and safety issues.”
As a result of the scrutiny, Fricke has pledged to address any complaint that is made, but readily conceded that there are limits to their ability to stop everybody from bringing a dog on campus. While not well-known, City College does have an existing policy that does not permit animals on campus, except for dog for the hearing and vision impaired.